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Jury selection is underway in the first trial stemming from the Jan. 6 insurrection


Jury selection is underway in the first trial stemming from the January 6 insurrection a bit more than a year ago. The defendant is Guy Reffitt. And prosecutors say he brought a gun to the Capitol grounds and later threatened his kids if they turned him in. He is fighting these charges. NPR's Tom Dreisbach reports.

TOM DREISBACH, BYLINE: Federal Judge Dabney Friedrich said the United States vs. Guy Wesley Reffitt is not your typical criminal case. As Judge Friedrich put it, no one can come into this courtroom with a completely blank slate about the events of January 6. And that's a challenge. So what she wants are jurors who can keep an open mind. As she presided in the high-ceilinged, wood-paneled courtroom, a team for the Department of Justice sat at one table and at another, Guy Reffitt and his defense attorney. Reffitt was wearing glasses, a tan sport coat. And he had his hair pulled back into a small ponytail.

One by one, more than 30 prospective jurors came in. There was a Walgreens cashier and, this being D.C., an employee of NASA, a man who's stepmom was U.S. ambassador to Canada during the Trump administration and a lot of lawyers. Judge Friedrich led the questioning. How much news about January 6 have you heard? Is it mostly headlines, or do you seek it out? Four people said they knew about the case of the so-called QAnon Shaman, or the guy with the horns, as a few put it. One said he read about this very case on the way to the courthouse that morning. Little did you know, said Judge Friedrich. Almost none recognized Guy Reffitt, the defendant, who pulled down his mask, just to make sure.

Then there were the questions about how people felt about the Capitol riot. And could they set aside those feelings? One man said, January 6 felt like an attack on my home. He started to get emotional as he described military troop transports parked on the streets of his city. The defense wanted him off the jury. The prosecution thought he could stay. Judge Friedrich said it was a close call but decided to remove him out of an abundance of caution. And the search for that neutral jury continues today.

Tom Dreisbach, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Dreisbach is a correspondent on NPR's Investigations team focusing on breaking news stories.

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